Raspberry Pi Moves Manufacturing Back To Home Country
September 7, 2012

Raspberry Pi Moves Manufacturing Back To Home Country

John Neumann for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

Raspberry Pi, the low-priced computer the size of of a pack of cards, with enough processing power to run full-scale applications initially looked to the UK for a manufacturing partner when the organization was first starting out, but hit several roadblocks along the way, BBC News reports.

First was the price of each unit. According to the charitable Raspberry Pi Foundation, the cost of the bare bones PC was going to be increased, by $5 if manufactured at the Sony UK Technology´s factory in Pencoed, South Wales, rather than China.

Liz Upton of the foundation in a blog announcing the UK manufacturing news on Thursday said, “[Last year] there was just no way to make the Raspberry Pi in the UK and keep the price at $25 for the Model A (which will be released before the end of the year at the promised price) and $35 for the Model B.”

Then there was the increase in taxes if built in the Welsh factory. As a statement explained earlier this year, “If we build the Raspberry Pi in Britain, we have to pay a lot more tax.” To build in the UK, the charity would have been taxed on importing the components, which it had to source from overseas. However, importing a built item attracts no import duty.

Last but not least was the manufacturing timeframe. With 12 to 14 weeks lead time in the UK, compared to three to four weeks in the Far East, writes Madeline Bennett for V3.co.uk.

Raspberry Pi was clearly keen to turn around this situation, and find a way to build this very British product in its homeland. Back in April, the team hooked up with Sony UK, which offers contract electronic manufacturing out of its plant in Pencoed, South Wales.

Upton continued with an explanation of the struggles in keeping the manufacturing on Britain's shores saying, “Several meetings, a factory tour, a lot of phone calls, some PowerPoint and sandwiches, and an up-close-and-personal with a wave soldering machine later, we were able to introduce our manufacturing and distributing partners to Sony´s Welsh facility.”

“Sony´s quality control system is legendary, their ability to manufacture fast and cleanly is superb, and they´ve already invested £50,000 [US$80,000] in PoP (Package on Package — the fiddly stuff where the Broadcom chip at the heart of the Raspberry Pi is stacked beneath the RAM chip) hardware and expansion capability just for us.”

Sony will also ensure the parts used in the boards are ethically and ecologically sound.

According to Robert Mullins, co-founder and lecturer at Cambridge University´s Computer Science department, the computer is aimed mainly at school children to help them enjoy computers and have fun programming.

“We wanted something that had a kit, or toy, feel to it,” he said. “We wanted to make it cheap enough so that even if you only have pocket money you should be able to buy one.”